Over the summer, our church does a sermon series titled Things We Need to Talk About. It is always a popular series and, each year, attempts to tackle some of the more pressing issues of the time. We’ve covered marriage, family, dating, friendships, cults, other belief systems, even pornography. The series splits messages between the different pastors on staff and today we had the privilege of listening to Greg Hubbard talk about Overcoming Loneliness. Greg is our staff evangelist. He and his wife go to destinations around the world and hold church meetings, help church plants, and minister to those in need. He mentioned that loneliness is one of the largest problems we deal with today. Statistically, 20% of people in this country had dinner alone last night. It is an issue that spans location, financial class, and even those in the seats around you every Sunday.
Initially, my thoughts went back to my time working in the emergency room. As patients arrived by ambulance, we would have to go to their rooms to complete registration paperwork. This was not always possible as the more critical arrivals would need to be stabilized and, even then, were mentally out of it. One night, the EMT came into the back room and signed in his patient. He said, “Whoever goes to that room, wear a mask or put some alcohol on your nose or something. Just a warning.” The three of us in registration exchanged glances. After a moment of silence, I said I would take it. I put together the paperwork, took out an alcohol swab, cleaned my nose to block the smell, and went to the room.
It was like something from a movie. It was summer. They had found the patient in a hoarders’ residence with no air conditioning, uncared for and alone. The patient hadn’t cleaned their body in weeks. I had trouble getting the signatures I needed. I’ll save you the more direct details.
There are things that create loneliness. We can create our own loneliness. Growing up as an only child, the stereotype was always that we were loners. I know people who had second and third kids to purposefully not have only children. Now, with two boys of my own, the sibling dynamic is fascinating. I’m learning with each game, fight, dinner, and outing how the relationship of brothers grows and changes. I’ll admit, I do take comfort knowing they will go through life together.
There are ways to beat loneliness. I’ll elaborate on three that Greg mentioned this morning.
1/Do Something– movement is the quickest way to beat getting stuck in loneliness. Start a journal, draw pictures, write music, write poetry. It can be as simple as taking a walk or going to the local book store and grabbing a coffee. Meet a friend. Chances are, you know someone who could use a phone call or text message right now. Reach out and make a person’s day better.
2/Know God is Near– As the picture above says, mountains were made to be moved. Whatever circumstance you face, nothing is insurmountable. You are never out of the game. One of the ambulance arrival registrations that stuck with me was getting information from the police on a successful hanging. They had found the body and cut it down. Know this, there is always help. Call someone. Reach out. Go to an emergency room. They have counselors on staff to help. Know that God is near you and ready to pull you out of your struggles, lift the burden, and free you to know life more fully.
3/Empathize with Others- There are people who need you, people going through the same stuff you have faced or may be facing. Locate a support group. Volunteer at a ministry opportunity. Find your passion. It can be with kids, senior citizens, even your peers. Find a passion and reach out. We are all searching for something and fighting our darkness. Help out in the battle and you’ll find your own weight lifted.
The most powerful thing you can do is serve somebody. If you are feeling lonely know that there is help and there is hope. You can break free, move forward, and start your life in a fresh direction. You can use your brokenness to help others and provide light into their lives.
You can make a difference.